December is full of holiday spirits in Belize. It is the time where Belizeans spend quality time with friends and family celebrating Christmas and Kwanza.
While many Belizeans (70 percent of the country is Catholic) celebrate a traditional Christmas complete with trees, holiday decorations, and midnight mass, there are many Kriol traditions still being kept alive.
During the Christmas and New Year holidays, the local Garifuna communities in Belize take to the streets to enjoy the Jankunu and Charikanari dancers. The Jankunu dance sees masked and costumed dancers parading the streets and roaming from house to house accompanied by the beat of traditional drummers.
Food also plays a big part in local Christmas traditions. While turkey and all the trimmings is often enjoyed, local traditional foods are also a big part of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day feasts. These dishes include rice and beans, potato salad, black fruitcake (made with rum), white relleno (a soup with pork-stuffed chicken and raisins), pebre (roasted pork and gravy), ham with pickled onions, jalapeños, and tamales. Rum Popo, a delicious Belizean version of eggnog, is also a favorite at Christmas (see our recipe below).
Much like caroling, the Christmas Bram features revelers singing, dancing, and playing instruments as they make their way through the streets from house to house to spread good cheer.